LISIEUX, France — Tyler Farrar was absent for a second straight sprinters’ stage today in the rain-soaked sixth stage of the Tour de France — a day that provided a cycling oddity: one Norwegian winning the stage and another retaining the race lead.
Farrar of Wenatchee finished 124th in the 226.5 kilometer (140.7 miles) Dinan to Lisieux stage, the longest of this year’s race, trailing first-time stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) by 2 minutes and 24 seconds.
Farrar, who on Monday won the third stage — the first Tour de France stage win of his nine-year pro career — is now 140th overall, trailing by 13:06.
Although considered a potential sprinters’ stage, today’s route also included three categorized climbs, not playing to Farrar’s strengths.
Farrar also had a mechanical problem, but he returned to the field.
Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), also of Norway and Farrar’s teammate, finished third, and the reigning world titlist kept the race lead he assumed when his team won the Stage 2 team time trial.
Hushovd has a one-second margin over Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia, twice an overall race runner-up. Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek) of Luxembourg is third overall, trailing by four seconds.
Today’s stage, often contested in heavy rain showers, began in one of the country’s many small, historic cities. Lisieux is replete with 14 watchtowers, huge gates and ancient streets lined with 15th-century wooden homes.
The route advanced northeast through Caen and then again to within miles of the English Channel to the finishing city hosting a Tour de France stage finish for the third time.
Five riders emerged from the field early in the day. Anthony Roux (FDJ) of France, the highest-placed rider in the group, began the day trailing Hushovd by 2:25 and in 50th place.
The group built more than a 10-minute lead, with Roux becoming the “virtual” race leader. But the leaders’ advantage tumbled steadily.
Adriano Malori (Lampre) of Italy was the last of the group to get caught by the field with about 1 1/2 miles left.
The three-week race, which began July 2 at Passage du Gois, continues Friday with a trek of 218 kilometers (135.5 miles) from Le Mans to Chateauroux. The stage doesn’t include any categorized climbs. Barring the unforeseen, it will be the third straight day for a likely en masse sprint finish.